Fatigue, Insulin Resistance, Potassium Deficiency, Hormone Issues, Cramps on the Carnivore Diet? You may not be Getting Enough Salt!

On the carnivore diet (or keto diet) it’s reasonable to be eating 10-15 grams of sodium chloride a day to get enough salt!

Otherwise, the body will push the cortisol way up, because the body is trying to keep the sodium, it’s one of the mechanisms. So on the carnivore diet we can cause insulin resistance if not getting enough sodium.

Also, not getting enough sodium is going to cause us to waste potassium, because there’s a sodium potassium counter exchanger in the kidney, so when we absorb sodium we get rid of potassium. So we’re going to have to waste potassium in order to hold onto the sodium, and it’s hard to know which one the body’s going to favor.

We have so much more sodium in our blood than potassium. If we look at the concentrations of sodium and potassium, in the blood potassium is around 3.5-4 and sodium is around 135 or 140, so sodium is clearly very important and our body’s are going to hold that level of sodium in the blood very constant and it’s going to do that at almost any cost.

It’s going to give us insulin resistance in order to hold on to sodium! So low sodium diets are a very big problem! So when people go keto or carnivore and they get fatigued and they get electrolyte abnormalities or they see their hormones tank, it’s very likely because they’re not getting enough salt, and their cortisol is going way up and then they have to push up the aldosterone as well, all in order to save the sodium. So giving yourself enough sodium is a really important thing.

Our ancestors probably had access to blood which is very high in sodium, or higher in sodium, and fresher meat would’ve had more blood in it and been saltier than the meat that we get today.

And then there were things like salt licks, likely our ancestors probably realized that salt was a good thing and they probably would’ve had access to salty rocks. So yes our ancestors didn’t have access to salt shakers but they had access to salt licks which are naturally occurring in the environment so they would’ve had these.

Many people doing carnivore / keto, have issues with cramping and charley horses, this seems to be related to other electrolytes. For some people it’s potassium for some people it’s magnesium.

It’s not entirely sure why we’re not getting enough of these on carnivore diets or why we’re wasting them, perhaps it’s because we’re not getting enough salt, and sodium is causing us to waste magnesium or waste potassium but regardless it’s pretty darn safe to supplement with magnesium and potassium. Magnesium supplementation really does seem to help a lot of people in terms of transition into carnivore and in terms of muscle cramps, so it’s reasonable to supplement magnesium especially when starting the carnivore diet / keto diet.

Source: Saladino, Paul, guest. “Paul Saladino – Higher Fat Carnivore, Food Poisoning, Electrolytes, and SIBO” Carnivore Cast, 21 June 2019. https://www.carnivorecast.com/podcast/saladino2


Is the Carnivore Diet an Ideal Diet?

First if we take a look at human evolution, humans began eating animals 2.5 million years ago – and that was a key player in our evolution, in the size of our brains. The nutrients found in animals was so crucial to who we became as humans.

Now if you reverse engineer it for a moment and have a think about, how do I get all the nutrients I need? And how do I get them all in the most bio-available forms? In this thought experiment – would you agree that the ideal diet would be completely nutrient replete, and have all the nutrients that a human needs, and in the most bio-available forms, and with the absence of toxins?

Can we agree that this is the definition of a good diet or perhaps the ideal human diet?

If we accept that, than it follows, based on significant research, that it’s pretty much indisputable that an animal based diet is going to satisfy that.

You have all the nutrients that a human needs to thrive, and in the most bio-available forms and there are none of the plant toxins.

As far as we’re aware of right now with nutritional science, there are no toxins naturally occurring in animals. (The idea of toxins with cooking animals is different, but there are no toxins naturally occurring in animals like there are in plants who use those toxins as defense chemicals.)

So if we accept that this is a reasonable definition of an ideal diet, a nutrient rich diet or a diet that could promote human health, it’s totally plausible to imagine that an animal-based, nose-to-tail carnivore diet meets that very well.

Now the nuance comes in with the fact that humans are all very individual. And some people can probably tolerate more-or-less plants on top of an animal based diet which can create variety. However, humans don’t require this to obtain all the nutrients that are bio-available, but if people want to eat those things, some people can tolerate more plant foods than others.

What we seem to observe, however, is that some people don’t tolerate them at all! Some people feel best when they eliminate plants completely.

For those people that can tolerate plants, even if just a little bit, it gives them some freedom to think that ‘well yes, maybe there isn’t anything good for me in this lettuce, or nothing I’m not getting in the meat and animal organs that I’m eating, but I’m gonna have a salad because I like it or because I’m just want some variety’ This is fine.

So a nose-to-tail carnivore diet could very well be a construct of an ideal human diet to which people could add plant foods that they tolerate, and as they want to, and hopefully with the idea that they would have some sense of where the toxins would be in those foods, trying to eliminate those most toxic plants accordingly. They might do just fine with adding in some plant foods and have some variety there as well.

And some people might do best on no plant foods, especially those who have severe illness, autoimmune disease, etc.

Source: Saladino, Paul, guest. “Part 47 – The Great Meat Debate w/ Mark Sisson, Dr. Paul Saladino, & Dr. Shawn Baker” Peak Human, 18 July 2019. https://www.peak-human.com/home/the-great-meat-debate-with-mark-sisson-dr-paul-saladino-and-dr-shawn-baker


Today’s Animals Are MORE Similar to the Animals We Used to Eat, Compared to the Plants That We Eat Today

Meat has been meat for two million years, so as far back as humans go, or even arguably longer. If we compare that to other foods that we eat right now, if we look at even some of the hybridized fruit that we have, it resembles nothing like it would’ve been even 10,000 years ago or even 2,000 years ago. Most vegetables today, even broccoli, weren’t even introduced in the United States until around 1920, and people believe that we’ve been eating it for millennia, but we haven’t!

But clearly we’ve been eating meat, unless those caves and UNESCO and all the other fossil records are graffiti, which I don’t think they were. Those in my view could’ve been a menu! Like a restaurant with a menu!

The animals that we’re eating today are much more similar to the animals we would’ve eaten back then, compared to the plants we’re eating today.

Most of the plants that we have in the grocery store are hybridized, genetically engineered or have been bred in a certain way to be bigger and sweeter in terms of fruits or more edible. Many of the foods we eat now were never available to us even 50,000-75,000 years ago.

You couldn’t just walk in the forest and grab a leaf or a fruit, nothing was available! Occasional tubers and seasonal small fruits, which were nothing like we see today. Plants are very different now than they used to be.

Source: Baker, Shawn, guest. Saladino, Paul, guest. “Part 47 – The Great Meat Debate w/ Mark Sisson, Dr. Paul Saladino, & Dr. Shawn Baker” Peak Human, 18 July 2019. https://www.peak-human.com/home/the-great-meat-debate-with-mark-sisson-dr-paul-saladino-and-dr-shawn-baker


We Can Survive But We Can’t Thrive

Our brain size has shrunk by about 200 ccs. It peaked around 150,000 years ago at about 1500 ccs and now modern homo-sapiens are about 1300 ccs.

That likely coincides with the fact that some of our food supply ran out. Some people make the argument that we were eating fattier sources of meat at some point particularly megafauna animals. If we look at the work of Lisa Smith out of the university of New Mexico, she shows the average mammal size at the beginning of the pliocene age (about 125,000 years ago) was about 500 kilograms. Now the average mammal size is approximately 9 kilograms.

So we had a tremendous loss of animal mass available to us to eat, so as that occurred…fortunately we were smart enough to figure out how to harness some calories from grains and other foods, and that’s sustained us and kept us alive as a population and it continues to do so today. However, it doesn’t help us to thrive optimally.

Grains and plant based foods are a sub-optimal source of nutrients, it can give us calories, yes, but they’re not very nutrient rich or bio-available.

This is a good news / bad news thing for the human body which is so resilient! We’re able to go long periods of time without eating our optimal diet, we can survive but we can’t thrive.

For example, during the Irish Potato Famine, people lived for six months at a time on shoe leather and seaweed. It wasn’t an ideal source of nutrients in any way shape or form, but it kept people alive.

So to our credit we evolve these different systems by which we can extract energy from different substrates, but that does not mean that it was either what we evolved and what our genes expect today or that it’s an ideal situation for us today.

Source: Baker, Shawn, guest. Saladino, Paul, guest. “Part 47 – The Great Meat Debate w/ Mark Sisson, Dr. Paul Saladino, & Dr. Shawn Baker” Peak Human, 18 July 2019. https://www.peak-human.com/home/the-great-meat-debate-with-mark-sisson-dr-paul-saladino-and-dr-shawn-baker


The Cult of the Seed

Jared Diamond, a well-known scholar, historian and author, calls the advent of agriculture ‘The Worst Mistake in Human History’, he’s termed it ‘The Cult of the Seed’

If you look at the paleo-anthropology evidence from the Dickson Mounds and all the other fossilized records of people around the time when agriculture began 10,000 years ago, the health of humans clearly rapidly deteriorated once we became agrarians.

There’s evidence of many nutrient deficiencies, many infectious diseases, hyperostosis of the scull which is probably due to deficiency of multiple minerals and vitamins and the skeletons got smaller, they were more fragile. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that that agriculture was a really bad thing for us to do.

Source: Saladino, Paul, guest. “Part 47 – The Great Meat Debate w/ Mark Sisson, Dr. Paul Saladino, & Dr. Shawn Baker” Peak Human, 18 July 2019. https://www.peak-human.com/home/the-great-meat-debate-with-mark-sisson-dr-paul-saladino-and-dr-shawn-baker


Agriculture, The Starting Point of Our Going Wrong

The agriculture revolution 10,000 years ago was the starting point of our going wrong, we were hunter gatherers up until that point, we lived in small tribes, and moved from place to place because there was no way to store food. It was literally a full-time job to be scavenging, hunting and gathering.

And we’re not just talking about roots, shoots, berries and nuts but small animals, birds, lizards, snakes as well as whatever we could kill and certainly scavenging. A lot of anthropologists would say that our ability to feast on a previous kill was to able to sneak up and scare the other predators away, our ability to access marrow by, some say, the first real tool was a hammer to crack open marrow and get those juicy ingredients in there.

But about 10,000 years ago someone discovered that we could take these seeds and grow grains, which was a great source of calories and allowed us to stay in one place and allowed us not to have to move around from one ecological environment to the next, but stay fixed and as a result have more children and have more people to work the earth and create civilization and societies, so that’s where we started to go wrong, and what happened was the cheap source of calories started to supplant the quality of nutrients that we were getting largely from the broad variety as hunter gatherers.

Source: Sisson, Mark, guest. “Part 47 – The Great Meat Debate w/ Mark Sisson, Dr. Paul Saladino, & Dr. Shawn Baker” Peak Human, 18 July 2019. https://www.peak-human.com/home/the-great-meat-debate-with-mark-sisson-dr-paul-saladino-and-dr-shawn-baker


Why should meat be included in a healthy diet?

Meat’s always been included in a healthy diet. Meat is what humans evolved as a primary source of protein, and we’re not just talking about rib-eye steaks and tenderloin but also eggs and nuetes and small animals as well as large animals, we’re talking about insects, which was part of that protein offering for 2-1/2 million years, we took in in order to stay alive and build muscle and have the energy that we have to get to where we are today.

So meat is 100% apart of a healthy diet, in fact, I’d be hard-pressed to name a society or a group of people that ever survived without some form of animal protein.

If you look at the size of the human brain, it EXPLODED (figuratively). It grew quite rapidly around two million years ago, and most scientists agree that was the advent of humans, homo-habilis, homo-erectus, eating meat! Eating animals and that nutrition shaped the way our brains could develop in a very profound way

If you look at sources of bio-available nutrients, animal foods are clearly far and away the best of those. A lot of times plant based advocates will tout nutrients in plants but if you just look at the facts regarding the bio-availability and the presence of nutrients, animal foods are clearly the winner for those.

And that would suggest why the human brain grew so rapidly! Once we had access to these incredibly rich sources of bio-available nutrients of all sorts, eating animals became this key to sort of unlock our continued evolution as humans and it continues to be a huge part of what makes us healthy today.

We are uniquely adapted to digest and process meat. We have transporters in the gut that are uniquely designed to take up di and tri-peptides that are coming from meat. If we look at it, we were primates, we evolved as a primate and there are primates that have been eating fruit for 25 million years or more and their brain hasn’t developed, and so something had to have changed, and the discovery of either first and maybe possibly savaging meat and then eventually learning how to organize and hunt drove much of that evolution and we haven’t changed, there hasn’t been enough time to turn back into herbivores which some people are trying to do now which is kind of crazy.

Source: Sisson, Mark, guest. Saladino, Paul, guest. Baker, Shawn, guest. “Part 47 – The Great Meat Debate w/ Mark Sisson, Dr. Paul Saladino, & Dr. Shawn Baker” Peak Human, 18 July 2019. https://www.peak-human.com/home/the-great-meat-debate-with-mark-sisson-dr-paul-saladino-and-dr-shawn-baker


Grains are not apart of Human History

The carnivore diet is an ancestral diet. Just zoom out for a minute…

Up until the agricultural revolution 12,000 years ago (just a nick of time) we ate meat, the vast majority of our diet was meat. The foods we are eating today did not exist 100 years ago. The vast majority of plants we’re eating did not exist throughout most of evolution.

Wheat, corn and rice were not eaten at all throughout human evolution and now that’s the majority of the food we eat.

Homo erectus has been around 1.8 million years. Homo sapiens 350,000 years. Neanderthals are extinct now, they were around for also around 350,000 years.

How long have we been farming rice? 3,000 years?? It’s the blink of an eye.

Wheat, corn and rice is a really new invention. Grains are not apart of human history.

We’ve adapted to some things, but to turn our original diet on its head is absurd.

Source: Stock, Kevin, guest. “Gaining Muscle Mass and Getting Perfect Teeth! A conversation with Dr. Kevin Stock.” Fundamental Health, 9 May 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-f06heMys4

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